It has been well documented that UCLA’s basketball program is known for being one of the elite powers in the nation, and this season will be a building block proving that the Bruins will return to the upper echelon of college basketball in the near future.
UCLA lost two starters and All Pac-10 first teamers in shooting guard Malcolm Lee and small forward Tyler Honeycutt, both of whom were selected in the second round of the NBA Draft.
The backcourt will not be quite as strong as last season with the losses of Lee and Honeycutt. Senior point guards Lazeric Jones and Jerime Anderson will split time at the point while rising sophomore Tyler Lamb will fill in for Lee as the starting shooting guard next season.
Shooting guard Norman Powell is the Bruin’s lone incoming freshman, and he will be a crucial part of the UCLA backcourt next season thanks to his athleticism and defensive prowess.
Junior college transfer De’End Parker will also be a major player for the Bruins next season, as he has the ability to play anywhere from point guard to small forward. He is expected to step in and start in place of Honeycutt.
Undoubtedly, the Bruins’ strength will be their frontcourt. Former McDonalds All-Americans Travis and David Wear will be eligible to play after sitting out a year following their transfer from North Carolina and they should be major contributors from day one.
UCLA basketball also returns its starting frontcourt in rising junior power forward Reeves Nelson, who led the team in scoring and rebounding last season and also named in the All Pac-10 first team, and rising sophomore center Joshua Smith, who has the potential to be one of the most dominant post players in the nation.
Rising redshirt sophomore center Anthony Stover will act as a firm defensive presence, while spelling Smith and rising junior forward Brendan Lane will be a versatile frontcourt player.
While the Bruins are not anticipated to be contenders for the national title, UCLA should be one of the frontrunners to win the first Pac-12 title while also making some noise at the NCAA Tournament in March.
Compiled by Jacob Ruffman, Bruin Sports senior staff.